“I want a better job!”
“I want to stop spending so much on shoes/handbags/[insert your own Achilles heel here].”
“I want to stop procrastinating.”
“I want to lose weight! …[Nom nom nom]
“I want to change, but I CAN’T!!!”
We all have something we want to change in our lives. It’s human nature to see the contrast of the world around us and wish for more, better, best – any thing or state of being that will send us further towards the direction of pleasure and help us high-tail it away from pain.
Take the example of, “I want to lose weight” - how many times have you heard that one? Probably plenty (and usually after the person has consumed an entire bowl of hot chips or a mammoth piece of cheesecake). So, given you hear it so often, why do you still see so many people struggling to lose weight?
Because we perceive that ‘change is hard’.
You might think, ‘Look, if someone really wants to lose weight, they should just stop whinging about it and just DO it. They should get some will power!’
The thing is, ‘will power’ is NOT the issue preventing cake-lovers (myself included) from ending their great love affair with the Gateau and shimmying into an even skinnier pair of skinny jeans. There’s actually a whole psychology behind why someone can’t hang onto their commitment to eat cabbage soup three times a day – and it doesn’t come down to them being a lesser human being because they’re ‘weak’, ‘lack self control’ or ‘have no willpower’. Not only do you need to understand and accept the change process to succeed, you also need to put some important steps in place BEFORE the changes you implement have a hope of actually STICKING.
Understanding The Change Process
Change isn’t something that most people welcome in their lives. Sure, we all SAY we want change, that change is good, but what we’re really saying is: I want positive change. I want the good stuff… I’m not too sure about the unknown though!
Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty
The reality is, with any change there is an element of the unknown – it’s simply part and parcel of doing something different - we don’t always know for sure how it will turn out. Sometimes we’re aware of this uncertainty, specifically when it manifests as a fear in the back of our minds that what we end up with, could be worse than what we’ve currently got. Often, this can stop us from pursuing change fully and so we try to make a change, but end up using one reason or another, to fall back into our old ways.
When you accept this inherent, human, fear of the unknown and become aware of it, you’re on your way to welcoming change, because now you aren’t operating on auto pilot.
Accept That You Need To Change The Level Of Your Thinking
I remember the first time I heard the quote, ‘the level of thinking that created a problem, isn’t the same level of thinking that will solve it’. I was at a training day and the presenter dropped it into his speech like he’d just come up with the most profound thought ever known to man. (Thing is, it wasn’t actually his idea, it was Einstein’s).
So the room erupted into these amazed ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, while I was seated at the back (shoveling Mentos into my mouth like a diabetic) - and then all of a sudden, WHAM! the application of this phrase hit me like a ton of bricks.
It became blindly obvious that yes, most people want different results in their life - they want positive change - but they don’t want to make the effort of changing the level of thinking that got them to where they are in the first place. They want to keep eating McDonalds but drop 5kg in a week. They want to earn more money and score a kick-ass promotion, but they don’t want to work overtime or contribute to special projects that would impress their boss.
What’s Meant By ‘Changing The Level Of Your Thinking’
I realised that if I wanted to keep getting more of what I already had in life, (i.e. more of the types of relationships I had, maintain my current level of self esteem, etc.) then all I needed to do was keep doing the exact same things, keep up the same mindset and foster the same habitual thoughts that had brought me to this current point in time. Here’s why:
Thoughts precede emotions…
Emotions precede action…
Actions precede results.
Simple right? Well in ‘theory’ it is. However, there’s one thing you HAVE to include in the initial stages of creating change, so that it actually sticks. It’s an often overlooked, yet CRUCIAL element that the whole transformational process is founded upon and one that when omitted usually sees the change process result in failure.
How To Fail: Attempt To Change Without A Compelling Enough Reason
Having a really good reason for wanting to change is the most crucial, yet often the most ignored element of the change process. For starters, you have to actually WANT to change your level of thinking. Sure you might want to lose 5 kilos, but are you prepared to change the way you think and get control of your mind? Do you have a good enough reason to put the effort into changing your habitual thoughts?Long lasting change only comes from a burning desire to be and think a different way.
Ask yourself – do you really WANT to change. REALLY? Maybe you’ve been told by a doctor that your health is at risk because of the excess weight you’re carrying. Maybe you’re sick of having the internal fight you have with yourself over your addiction. Maybe you’re just DONE with going through the stress and heartache of attracting the wrong men/women.
Whatever your reason for change – you need to hang onto it like it’s the last half-priced, size 7 suede boot on earth. It’s going to be your best friend from now on.
A Basic Process For Creating Lasting Change
Spend 10-15 mins brainstorming the reasons WHY you want to change. Write them down and decide on the one that’s MOST compelling for you. You can even choose two or three – whatever you find the most motivating.
So for example, your reasons for wanting to change might be:
- I WANT to change, because I know that feeling good about my body and having it operate in a healthy fashion, will allow me to continue being alive and enjoy life to the fullest – which is one of THE most important things in the world.
- I WANT to change, because I want to experience that wonderful feeling of truly connecting with a man/woman who is my everything and loves me unconditionally.
Whatever your reason is – it has to be good enough to keep you on track when the old thinking comes in.
Then write your ‘compelling reason/s’ out and put them somewhere really visible.
TIP: Write it on a plain white business card and put it in your wallet too, so you have it to hand anytime your old habitual thinking is likely to take over.
Once you have your compelling reason for change, you’re ready to start on Step 2 of Creating Lasting Change. Stay tuned for that in a future post.
Not At A ‘Do or Die’ Level Of Wanting To Change Yet?
That’s cool. Don’t worry if you’re not. When you’re ready for change to take place, you’ll want it bad enough. If you’re still stuck at one level of thinking, (maybe it’s ‘this cake will make me feel happy and distract me from what I’m feeling’), then notice those thoughts, accept that they’re present and recognise that to get a new result, you have to decide that changing your thinking will be worth the effort.
From now on, you can forget about the fact that ‘change might be hard’ or even worse, owning and acting out crazy statements like, ‘I CAN’T change, this is who I am.’
It’s not. Who you are right now is merely a mirror of your level of thinking, which in turn is just the culmination of every thought you’ve had and every action you’ve taken up until this point in time. When you decide to change your level of thinking, take action to start thinking new thoughts and subsequently see a result in the different types of actions you choose to take, YOU WILL be something different to what you are now.
Life Isn’t Static And Neither Are You
Don’t sell yourself short by deciding that change is too hard. It’s not.
Once you have a compelling reason for creating a new and better life, it will be easier to forget about the fear of uncertainty that’s part and parcel of change, and instead, embrace the opportunties it holds.
Start To Welcome Change
Make friends with it. See it as the harbinger of new, more exciting possibilities for your life. Most of all, recognise that firstly WANTING to change your level of thinking and secondly having a good enough reason to change will make getting different results in your life a whole lot easier.
The EXCITING thing about being at the crossroads of change – at a point where you’re faced with choosing change and the life you want, rather than what you have – is that there are a million potentials for where you can go.
It’s Not Hard, It’s Just Different
Many people keep on re-hashing the belief that change is hard. But which is harder: living a life that’s less than what you REALLY want, what you dream of and what you know in your heart of hearts is your birthright? Or – putting some time and effort into committing to changing your level of thinking, keeping your compelling reason as a living breathing motivator in your consciousness and becoming a new and improved version of yourself?
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